31 December 2009

Well, it does seem trivial now that you mention it.

It's not often you get a lesson in perspective from the business manager at a car dealership. Earlier this week, as we were driving to the dealership to finalize the purchase of the car we'd been leasing, the car was struck by a large piece of ice that had flown up from another vehicle on the highway. It was kind of scary and it made a loud noise when it hit, so we were worried that there was damage to the roof. Luc is very particular about the condition of the car so we were both relieved to find that the ice had struck the roof rack and there was no damage.

We spent a bit of time in the business manager's office while waiting for the paperwork to be completed. We went from discussing our respective Christmas's to learning about Ethiopian Christmas traditions to hearing about his experiences as a central banker in Ethiopia overseeing NGO activities, to his ultimate deportation to Eritrea when conflict broke out in 1998 for the crime of writing a report opposing foreign aid. He told us how he found himself in Eritrea, his father's homeland, with $20 in his pocket and the clothes on his back. He'd been forced to leave behind his house and all his belongings never to return.

When the talk returned to the business at hand, Luc mentioned the ice incident and how relieved we'd been that there'd been no damage. The business manager shrugged and said, "Meh. You can always fix man-made things". I thought to myself that this was not quite the response I would have expected at a car dealership, surrounded by perfect, shiny cars, but I didn't expect to be doing business there with an Ethiopian economist who'd lost everything and knew exactly how unimportant a scratch or dent actually is.

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